Lena Glutting headshot

Lena Glutting
Former Community Relations and Events Assistant, University Relations

Am I really an adult?

I live on my own, I pay my bills and I cook for myself, but the question still remains: am I really an adult? For me, this struggle of not feeling like an adult rears its ugly head most often on co-op terms. Why? Well, I feel like I still have a lot of learning and growing to do, while still navigating a full-time position and getting to know a new team.

But that’s the beauty of learning during a co-op term, growing and adapting to new circumstances.

For those working remotely during a co-op, like I did during Spring Term, there was a learning curve to feeling connected to my job. Like many other remote co-op students, I hadn't yet met many of my coworkers in person. They had only really seen me on camera, in dress-down clothes and at a make-shift office of my bedroom, kitchen or living room. I struggled to grasp how my coworkers could begin to take me seriously in this context, but quickly learned that they, too, are facing these interrupted work environments. I began to see how I'd been offered unique opportunities to work independently and to try new things, while giving me the freedom to navigate my work from a home environment.

As a result of being thrown upside down into the world of remote working, we've developed professional resilience and learned some lessons along the way.

Here are some tips I've picked up from my work-from-home co-op term:

  1. Make sure you’re aware of what your camera is showing during meetings. Use the time between clicking “join meeting” on Teams and joining, to scan your environment and ensure that you have nothing embarrassing behind you!
  2. Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping a clean workspace. It will make you look more professional, keep you organized and most importantly help you focus on the work at hand. So, take the time to stop and tidy things up.
  3. Don’t be afraid to mute yourself or to turn off your camera — we can’t look like Blake Lively or Ryan Reynolds every single day — and there’s no shame in that.
  4. On the days that you’re struggling, take a break. Stretch your legs, make that second cup of coffee or stop for a snack.
  5. Keep things separate. Your work and home life should be two very different spaces, and for the sake of your stress levels, don’t try to mix them. Set up a space that is solely for work. And no, your bed doesn’t count! Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and to stick to them. For me, Outlook is only open when I’m on the clock, not 24/7.
  6. Your team has your back, feel free to reach out to them. They’ve been doing this since March, and they’re bound to have some useful advice or lend an ear to listen. Remember, your colleagues are there to mentor you and help you develop and grow.

Overall, my best advice is not to sweat the small stuff, like accidentally muting your mic during web meetings or worrying if everyone heard your roommate in the background of your all-department conference call. We’re all trying to navigate this new virtual world and as long as you’re putting in the right effort, you’re doing great.

Check out below how Angelica stays organized in her role.

Be professional by staying organized

Angelica Sanchez headshot

Angelica Sanchez
Former Communications Co-ordinator, University Relations

Having the ability to stay organized can help you succeed and look professional during your remote co-op work term. Looking back on how I managed my work-from-home situation in Spring Term, staying organized helped me succeed in my role. This went beyond a clean desk or room. For me, it meant organizing my priorities and tasks on a daily basis. Hint: if you’re not sure what to tackle first, just ask. Don’t waste time with stressing.

Taking notes during meetings

Meetings can range from a 30-minute discussion with your team to an hour-long meeting with an entire business unit. I used a notebook, whether it’s lined or a bullet journal, to write down meeting notes and reminders for myself.

It’s important to keep track of what is mentioned in the meeting, especially if it is a task that requires a follow-up action from you. Also, having written notes can help you in the long run if a colleague missed the meeting and asks for an update — you’ll likely have the information you need in your notes.

If you’re not a notebook type of person, you can use Microsoft Office’s OneNote — a digital version of a notebook that allows you to organize your meeting notes or any notes for that matter, by sections or groups. This is a great feature if you are working on multiple projects that have frequent team meetings. There are many simple ways to help you organize your notes, including bolding type, highlighting actions, using bullet points, etc.

Organizing your computer files into folders

If you’re a co-op student who is using a personal computer, your desktop or documents folder can start to look cluttered with the number of files being saved. Organizing computer folders and files can sometimes feel like a tedious task but it is actually an important step to take to help keep you organized.

For every new project, task or an assignment I took on, I created a new folder, named it and saved all related files accordingly. Having your folders organized and easily accessible can help you find files faster and respond quickly to your colleagues requests.

Staying organized (digitally and physically within your workspace) can help you stay focused and more productive while working from home. It can also help you feel less stressed, more in control and ultimately more professional and prepared to succeed in your workplace.

Let’s show them what we’ve got, Warriors!